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She writes simply to put her thoughts together.
Sometimes they're well-structured, sometimes they're in absolute mess.
But always, they're personal.

Ultimately, this is all for Him.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

My Hijab Story Day

The other day, I went to a seminar on the X-ray facilities available at my university. At the end of the talk, we were able to visit any of the facilities if we want. I didn't intend to but ended up going because I hung around the concourse too long that I got invited to join them and just went anyway.

As we reached the lab, there were two people at the computer near the X-ray instrument. I recognised a face belonged to an undergraduate that I know is doing a summer project. We sat on the same table during our Get Started briefing and talked a bit at that time. I thought we went along fine so, intuitively, I expected a "Hi" or a smile at least, as a gesture from him. But he didn't. So I wanted to act that way to him instead, but having to realise he was avoiding any eye contact from me, I dismissed that thought. Oh well, never mind. The other person was an academic, whom I'm not sure whether he taught me before or if I had any interactions with him (as I am awful at remembering people's names and faces) but I recognised his face as well.

Our tour guide introduced the three of us (yes, there were only 2 who were interested in visiting the facility except for me) to those two people. First he introduced this one lady who is a chemist, from the Chemistry department (obviously). As he was about to introduce me and this other guy (who's a physicist), the academic immediately said "Oh I know them. You don't need to introduce them to me."

I was shocked. Partly embarrassed because he knows me although I can't remember him (but that happens too often) but I was mostly shocked due to the fact that he knows me well enough to not be introduced. Being an antisocial in a very non-sociable course, I can count the very few interactions I had with any academics. With this particular academic, I'm pretty sure that we haven't had any active interactions before. The closest contact I could have had with him is most probably of him being my lecturer (of which I can't remember for which module). If that's the case, it's not actually surprising that he knows me - but surprising still, that he remembers. I am in fact the only hijabi (specific term for a Muslim wearing a headscarf) amongst my batchmates in my course. With a selective number of the students being female, it is indeed really probable that I stand out from the rest of the class, physically.

That's one of the perks of being a female practicing Muslim. Your very presence is enough to make yourself memorable. You don't have to do much to get people to recognise you, if not remember you. It's good and bad, depending on how you see it and how you behave. If you do good, then it's not hard to gain a good reputation. Meanwhile, if you do bad, it's much easier to create a bad reputation. Like if I ask a question in a lecture hall, people would immediately take note of me - unconsciously if not consciously. One of my coursemates once remarked me as someone who's active in class (lecture) although I might have only raised my hand in the lectures a couple of times. On the other hand, once during my early days in my first year, I'd forgotten to bring my lab script and asked a very naive question to the lecturer "do I need my lab script for the session today". He rolled his eyes, said nothing, and disappeared. As I sat at a table, I felt a smack on my head and it was the lecturer, handing me a new lab script. See, I didn't even introduce myself. And the lab isn't tiny, with students sitting in a very scattered manner, assigned to various lab assignments. The fact that he could remember me without having to say a word, sends chills down my vein on the effect I can create if I slip at being good.

Later that day, after I got back from the visit of the X-ray facility, there was another incident.

I was at the bus stop near my house, waiting to catch a bus to go to the prayer hall to break my fast (it was still Ramadan then). I was on my own and later a man came and looked at the bus timetable. As the real time screen at the bus stop was not on, I told this man that the bus to the university was going to arrive in just 5 minutes time. We chat a bit about trivial stuff, like how the British does it. At the end of our conversation, he complimented my scarf of which he followed by asking "if you don't mind me asking, which religion is that?" and later I told him a bit about Islam, and that it's fasting month and I'm on my way to break my fast and stuff. He seemed interested.

That experience left me awestruck. One, because I seldom get to tell a non-muslim about my faith (which is a shame for someone who declared herself as being a daie) and two, because it wasn't just a compliment by a man (which is still unusual in Britain) but a non-muslim man. I mean, it's normal for us here to receive compliments from non-muslim women (mainly because it's a fashion and they don't usually know how this hijab fashion works so to see a Muslim working it, is something) but from men, no. And believe me, this wasn't the kind of questions that guys throw to pick up a woman or being flirtatious. It was completely honest (at least as how I see it) and he seemed so keen to know that I told him as much as I can tell in the little time I had.

I was wearing this hijab from Amsons, Birmingham.
Bought it for the one time we joined a nasheed competition.
(This maxi dress is from Poplook, Malaysia)
This encounter reminds me of the kind of encounter that Idris Tawfiq had on his holiday in Egypt when he wasn't a muslim. He told us in his talk at our university that there was this one boy on the street who constantly greeted him with "Assalamualaikum". It wasn't much from the boy but it was Tawfiq's first encounter to Islam. Later on he commented that he doesn't know what happened to the boy and the boy - who should be a full-grown adult now - must've not known of what happened to him later on as well. But he said, as he's an Islamic speaker, all of what he said in his talks that touched people's hearts, all of the people who came to Islam by his means, these all started with the simple salaam from that random boy on that random street. Imagine the amount of reward Allah would've given to this boy, collected with the simple act that he did.

This story truly motivates me in being a good ambassador of Islam, spreading the goodness of Islam by any means. And being a hijabi is actually a given advantage because I can "preach" Islam to people effortlessly.

Indeed, Allah has chosen that boy. May we be amongst that He chooses as well :)

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